White House adviser says Trump was 'straightforward' on coronavirus when pressed on Woodward interview

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro dismissed concerns on Sunday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE was purposely downplaying the threat of the coronavirus earlier this year in light of recently released recordings that show Trump privately acknowledged the threat to journalist Bob Woodward in February. 

CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperPence aide dismisses concerns rushed vote on Trump nominee will hurt vulnerable senators Klobuchar: GOP can't use 'raw political power right in middle of an election' The Memo: Media accused of using kid-gloves on Biden MORE asked Navarro during a heated interview on “State of the Union” about Trump’s comments in a Feb. 7 interview with Woodward for a forthcoming book that contradicted what the president said publicly about the coronavirus a couple of days later. 

Recordings released last week show Trump privately told Woodward the coronavirus was five times deadlier than the flu, but during a press conference a couple of days later, the president said the opposite when asked about the coronavirus. 

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Asked by Tapper on Sunday why the president was misleading the public, Navarro responded by noting Trump’s so-called travel ban on China imposed at the end of January and plans the White house created in early February to prepare for the virus. 

“You’re not answering my question. You're talking about what you were doing privately,” Tapper told Navarro. 

Tapper pressed Navarro on the contradiction between Trump’s public comments and those to Woodward, noting that even some Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins (Maine.), called Trump out after the recording was released. 

“Why wasn’t the president straightforward with the American people?” Tapper asked. 

“He was straightforward,” Navarro responded, adding that Tapper was “cherry-picking.”

Tapper said he was not cherry-picking and that he wanted Navarro to answer the question. 

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Navarro continued defending Trump’s comments, claiming that “CNN is not honest with the American people.”

Trump participated in multiple interviews with Woodward for his forthcoming book, titled “Rage,” which is the journalist’s second on the Trump presidency. 

Last week, Trump said “perhaps” he misled the public to “reduce panic” about the coronavirus when asked about the recordings. 

"If you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that's so," Trump told reporters last Wednesday when asked if he downplayed the virus or misled the public to avoid panic.

"The fact is I'm a cheerleader for this country. I love our country," Trump continued. "I don't want people to be frightened. I don't want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I'm not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy."